Former GOP U.S. House Speaker Denny Hastert indicted

John Dennis Hastert_gov_thb

Allegations of withdrawing $1.7 million in cash to evade bank detection – to pay hush money to conceal sexual abuse of a former male student

by NW Spotlight

On Thursday, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of Denny Hastert. Hastert, a Republican, was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007.

The NY Times reported the indictment was based on “allegations that [Hastert] made cash withdrawals, totaling $1.7 million, to evade detection by banks. The federal authorities also charged him with lying to them about the purpose of the withdrawals.”

It appears that Hastert was paying hush money “to conceal sexual abuse against a former male student,” that happened while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach. The indictment notes “From approximately 1965 to 1981, defendant John Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois.” The NY Times reports “the wrestling team [Hastert] coached at tiny Yorkville High School won the state championship in 1976,” and the LA Times notes Hastert “remained so proud of his days as a small-town high school teacher and wrestling coach that he relished the Capitol Hill nickname ‘Coach.'”

The LA Times reports that a top federal law enforcement official “said investigators also spoke with a second man who raised similar allegations that corroborated what the former student said.”

The indictment discusses “Individual A,” who is believed to be the former student. The indictment says the former student met with Hastert multiple times in about 2010 and discussed “past misconduct” by Hastert against the student, and that Hastert agreed to pay the former student $3.5 million to “compensate for and conceal” Hastert’s past misconduct. The indictment also says that Hastert withdrew about $1.7 million in cash between 2010 and 2014 to give to the former student.

It was those cash withdrawals that drew the attention of federal investigators.

The Washington Post quotes a longtime friend of Hastert “he got his job because he didn’t have any skeletons in his closet,” and points out that Hastert got the speaker job in December 1998, “after they had ousted Newt Gingrich as speaker,” because “Republicans lost [Gingrich’s] designated successor because of extramarital affairs.” At the time, a Republican from a neighboring Illinois district, told the Washington Post “I looked [Hastert] right in the face and said, ‘Can you withstand the scrutiny?’ He said yes.”

The designated successor for Newt Gingrich had been Bob Livingston.

The NY Times reports that the Hastert case has “been assigned to Judge Thomas M. Durkin of Federal District Court, who will schedule an arraignment for the former speaker, perhaps as early as next week.” Preliminary bail was set at $4,500.

UPDATE (6/5/2015): AP – Dennis Hastert sexually abused my brother in high school, woman says